Managing Work-Related Stress During a Pandemic
If you feel like your workdays are more draining than usual, you’re not alone. According to Bloomberg, the pandemic has affected the typical workday in three ways: the average workday is about 48 minutes longer, about 1.4 more emails are being sent, and the amount of meetings held has increased by 13%. Employees attributed their disrupted schedules to childcare demands, blurring boundaries between work and home, and the stresses of an economic recession.
As more employees are working remotely and situations are changing quickly, it makes sense that companies feel the need to stay connected and get things done. However, these external stresses on top of a more demanding workday can overwhelm employees and leave them burnt out. Here are a few things to do to manage work-related stress in these difficult times:
- Acknowledge the situation – Recognize that this isn’t just “working from home,” this is working from home due to a global pandemic. If you’re having a rough day, take a deep breath and try again tomorrow; everyone is facing uncertainty and aren’t their best selves. Being forced into a remote work position will bring a unique set of challenges, but it will get easier with time.
- Get into a routine – To increase productivity, set a routine to get your brain into “work mode.” This could include a morning workout, making coffee or simply changing out of your pajamas. Try to avoid working in bed, if not your entire bedroom, so your brain doesn’t associate where you sleep with where you work. Work with your family members to create a routine that works for everyone. Regaining a sense of control will help alleviate some of your stress.
- Set boundaries – It may be tempting to finish a small task at the end of the day, but one thing leads to another and suddenly you’ve worked till 8 PM. Set clear time limits with your coworkers and commit to them, as working too long will just lead to burn out. Working from home gives flexibility but it doesn’t mean you need to work every second of the day.
- Prioritize – Write an outline of your responsibilities for the day and identify what needs to be completed first. Additionally, communicate with your coworkers to figure out what meetings can be written in an email or pushed off for a few days if you’re busy. Prioritizing your tasks will allow you to save your energy and attention for high-priority items.
- Take care of yourself – Stay hydrated, get some exercise and fresh air if you can, eat healthfully, and avoid too much alcohol or sugar. These physical practices will have a positive impact on your mental health but it’s important to add mental practices in as well. Start each day with a gratitude practice, listing a few things for which you are grateful and practice deep breathing exercises throughout your day. If your inability to focus or your feelings of sadness or being overwhelmed are making it hard to function, reading, connecting with loved ones or even remote therapy may be beneficial.
Working from home has its advantages, but the disruption and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 can take a toll on your mental health. For more advice on managing stress and anxiety or information about all of our wellness offerings, please fill out the form below: